Daytrippin': Museum of Anthropology
Thanks to Wake Forest University's Museum of Anthropology, you don't have to visit a foreign country to see woven masks from Papua New Guinea, ancient Mayan pottery or a Samoan skirt. You can see all of these things and more at the museum, which is located on the university's Winston-Salem campus. Budget-conscious families will appreciate the museum's free admission, but the real treasure is learning about other cultures in a fun environment.
"The Museum of Anthropology provides families with an opportunity to experience different global cultures in a fun and educational setting," says Sara Cromwell, the public relations, marketing and membership coordinator of the museum. "Children can be exposed to peoples and cultures that they might not otherwise encounter through the museum's exhibits and events, many of which are free to the public.
Ideal for elementary-school age children and up, the museum can be explored by scavenger hunt. Young explorers are asked to identify four objects from the current exhibits such as a damarau (storage jar) from Papua New Guinea, a painted Mayan ceramic plate or a traditional costume created by Kuna women.
Kids love games, so the scavenger hunt is a great way to get young visitors more engaged with the exhibits on display. There's also a slightly more challenging scavenger hunt for middle-school and high-school students.
There are currently five exhibits at the museum. "Culture & Couture," which runs through Aug. 20, displays some of the museum's permanent collection of traditional costumes from across the globe. The garments show how clothing expresses religious beliefs, gender norms and social status. Here you find a kimono from Japan, Moroccan fez (hat), thobe (robe-type garment) from Saudi Arabia, Mexican huipil (blouse), and more.
"How Do They Know? The Science of Archaeology in the Yadkin River Valley" displays artifacts and information about the Native American groups that lived in the Piedmont. The exhibit also explores the role of the archeologist in learning about past civilizations.
"African Religion: Nothing Was or Will Be Except God" explores how traditional African people express their spiritual beliefs through places, person and objects. The exhibit examines areas basic to African religious systems: creation, spiritual places, life transitions, death and ancestors, social and political life, and effects of globalization.
Visitors to the "Art of Earth, Art of Sky: Maya Cosmic Imagery" exhibit will find ceramic bowls, painted plates, murals, a wooden mask and several ceramic figurines. These items represent different beliefs about the universe in ancient and contemporary Maya culture.
"Face to Face: The Arts of Exchange in Mainland Papua New Guinea" uses woven masks, pottery and religious objects to show the role of trade in Papua New Guinea.
In addition to these exhibits, the museum also hosts family-friendly fun days three times a year. Last month, the museum hosted Exploring Japan Family Day, which featured traditional Japanese music, food, arts and crafts, and more. Be sure to check the museum's website for upcoming events.
Whether you visit the museum's exhibits or attend one of the family days, the Museum of Anthropology is a wonderful resource for parents who want their kids to think globally. Learning about other cultures can foster a greater understanding of the world and appreciation for other people, past and present.
IF YOU GO
Museum of Anthropology
Wake Forest University
Behind Kentner Stadium on WFU's Reynolda Campus in Winston-Salem
Hours & Admission
Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Admission is free, but donations accepted.
This summer, the museum will also host a summer day camp, African Adventures, for children ages 6-12 from 9 a.m. to noon. There are three one-week sessions: July 11-15, July 18-22 and July 25-29. Cost is $100 for one week or $85 for museum members. The day camp will use music, art, stories and games to explore various African cultures.